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IIT-M team develops sutures with nanofiber yarns

A team of researchers at IIT Madras is ready with a prototype of suture thread made of nanofiber yarns that is bio-absorbable and can deliver a higher load of antibiotics and/or therapeutics at the site itself.

The suture material uses nanofibers woven as yarn using certain specific techniques, and the strength can be varied depending on the target tissue (skin, muscle, cartilage), explains Rama S. Verma of the Stem Cell and Molecular Biology laboratory, Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras. Each strand has a good tensile strength, besides degrading rapidly and mimics the collagen fibrils of body tissues, he adds.

Several innovations globally in suture material have advanced infection control and achieved in some cases, better recovery among patients, even as other options such as staples, glues and strips have become available.

Nanofiber yarns are thread-like structures formed by twisting together hundreds of nanofibers, Prof. Verma explains. The way the nanofibers mimicked the collagen fibril sparked the idea in a lab that primarily works on scaffold-based tissue engineering to create thread like structures by twisting nanofibers together using custom-made machinery. Arti Sunil Richard, Research Scholar, Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras, also worked on the project that won the ‘SITARE-Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (GYTI) Award 2020’ recently.

“Several experiments were done to prove its compatibility, mechanical strength, stem cell interaction, immune responses, and antibacterial property, and they were compatible with prescribed norms in surgical procedure,” Prof. Verma claims. The team also loaded the fibers to deliver drugs at site, he says, adding that it might be more suitable for internal sutures and on soft tissues. The bio absorbability aspect makes sure that the sutures do not have to be removed.

Initial funding has been received for the project, and the team is looking for further funding to deliver surgery-ready nanofiber yarn at reasonable costs, he adds.